Dutch municipalities investigate treatment of Jewish property owners in WWII
Following the example of the five largest Dutch cities, another 13 municipalities are launching investigations into how they treated Jewish property owners during the Second World War, television show De Monitor reported after surveying the Dutch municipalities.
Previous research by De Monitor and Pointer showed that Dutch municipalities often took possession of stolen Jewish real estate, and then continued to charge the owners property tax or lease fees while they were in hiding or in concentration camps.
Arnhem, Deventer, Assen, Groningen, Leeuwaden, Hilversum, Amersfoort, Apeldoorn and Zwolle, among others, have now decided to launch an investigation into their treatment of Jewish property owners, or are looking into the possibilities of starting such an investigation, De Monitor reported.
Amsterdam already launched such an investigation in 2016, The Hague followed last year. And Rotterdam, Utrecht and Eindhoven did so this year. Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam have already paid out 14.6 million euros in compensation to individuals and Jewish organizations as a result of these investigations.
Liesbeth Zegveld, the lawyer who helped client Salo Muller convince NS to pay compensation for transporting Jewish people to German concentration camps, told De Monitor that all Dutch municipalities should investigate their treatment of Jewish property owners during the war. They shouldn't wait for victims or surviving relatives to ask for the investigation.
"If you cause harm and damage, you are obliged to repair it. It is a bit unpleasant to only do that when the other person comes forward," Zegveld said.
Ronny Naftaniel of the Central Jewish Consultation agrees. "The investigations already conducted showed how coldly and unfairly the municipalities of Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam acted. But now they have done everything to fix what still needed a bit of fixing. And that is really good, because with it you can say: 'what we could have done, we have done'. If you leave it, it will remain ulcerating wounds," he said to De Monitor.